What It Is Really Like to Be a Friend of Someone with Lupus
Lupus often affect the patient in a number of different ways and frequently force them to change their lifestyles in order to accommodate their disease, which they, in some cases, will have no choice but to coexist with for their entire lives. However, an often overlooked facet of chronic diseases is the struggles of caregivers as they remain by the patient’s side, accompanying them through their disease and lending the necessary assistance to improve their quality of life in whatever way possible.
In this sense, lending care to a patient, especially those with a chronic disease like lupus, often requires a certain mindset, and a significant amount of patience. In other words, only the most resilient and those that are steeled to lend the proper care are the ones who will be able to help the patients in the long run.
However, not everyone has the necessary patience or disposition to lend care to a loved one 24/7, especially if the one providing aid has a job or any other obligations during the day. This is what happened to Johnni Congleton 5 years ago when she received her lupus diagnosis and, consequently, had most of her friends walk out on her because they couldn’t tolerate just how sick she was and how sickly she acted all the time. Luckily, there are still people in the world willing to provide selfless care and aid to those in need, and this couldn’t be more apparent to Congleton on the day she first met Joshua Burrows.
The two met at a Bible study class held at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, and as soon as Burrows found out that Congleton was suffering from lupus, he immediately jumped in and offered his unfaltering support for the years to come.
“Whatever you need, I’m here,” is what the Florida man said after embracing Johnni for the first time, a phrase that, as time has proven, wasn’t exaggerated just to earn favor with her. Through the years, Burrows has offered financial as well as emotional support to Congleton, especially during the times where the latter had to take a strong chemotherapy treatment to suppress the lupus symptoms, which had left the unfortunate side effect of leaving her bald and unable to grow hair for a few years.
For the duration of the chemotherapy, which extended a little over 3 years, and while Johnni remained unable to grow hair, Joshua also shaved his head for the duration to prove that he was remaining by Congleton's side for the long run. The impact that Joshua has had on Johnni’s life has been immense, though he constantly downplays his role by stating that, while he has a choice to provide aid, help financially, shave his head, etc. Johnni never had one when it came to lupus. The gestures that Joshua performs are simply to demonstrate that she doesn’t have to be alone, that where others walk out, there are still good people willing to stick around and provide aid.